Data Management

1.     Backing up of Data


Data backup is the procedure of frequently copying files and folders (data) to another location in order to be able to retrieve that data if the first location becomes inaccessible for any reason or if one or more files is accidentally deleted or changed.

Most of us store data on the local disk drive (C :) of our computers. This data could be lost if the hard drive fails, if the data becomes corrupted, is deleted, or in the case of a laptop - if it is stolen.

Data files can also be stored on network-connected disk storage. ICS administers the central data storage that provides you with your H: drive. This data is regularly backed up to tape and is essentially safer than storing data files on local disk drives. 


2.     Decisions to take before doing a data backup


As noted above, the backup process is one of copying data. Two key decisions need to be taken:


a.         Where do you backup your Data to


Your backup plan should also provide for "off-site" storage to protect mainly critical data files against disasters such as a fire in your building. You could, for example, use an external disk drive as your normal backup storage medium and leave this in your office, but in addition you could also copy critical files to CD, DVD, or a flash drive and store those at home.


There are several backup locations that can be used:

1Network-connected disk drives (e.g. our H: drive)


            2. External disk drives 

            3. Flash drives

            4. CDs or DVDs of various types

The aims for selecting a specific storage medium will normally involve consideration of factors such as storage size required, speed of copying, ease of use, cost, and the time for which a backup copy must be retained. You must also consider the susceptibility of the chosen storage medium to various types of "disaster scenario".  (See: Information about different media)


3.     One place for all


Place all documents in the Documents folder and nowhere else. So whether it’s a spreadsheet, a document or a presentation, etc. it goes here. This will make it easier to find your documents and to run backups.



4.      Create folders in Documents


These are the drawers of your computer’s filing cabinet. Use simple language to name your folders; you don’t want to be looking at this list of folders in the future and wondering what “TFK” or whatever other interesting abbreviation you invented means.




5.      Nest folders within folders


Create other folders within these main folders as the need arises. For instance, a folder called “Invoices” might contain sub-folders called “2009”, “2010” and “2011”. A folder named for a client might include the folders “customerdata” and “correspondence”. The goal is to have every file in a folder rather than having a bunch of orphan files listed.


6.     Be specific


Give files logical, specific names and include dates in file names if possible. The goal when naming files is to be able to tell what the file is about without having to open it and look. If the document is a letter to a customer reminding him that payment is overdue, call it something like “overdue081206” rather than something like “letter”.



Do not save documents to the desktop, the reason being this slows down the startup process of your computer and also you may forget to backup these documents when you setup a routine to backup your Documents folder.





7.     File as you go


The best time to file a document is when you first create it. So get in the habit of using the “Save As” dialogue box to file your document as well as name it, putting it in the right place in the first place.



8.     Information about different media






(Compact Disc-Recordable)

●CD-R can be read by both an audio CD-player and a CD-ROM drive.

●Can be stored offsite to protect against the case of physical damage to the area surrounding the computer

●Once data is recorded; it cannot be erased or rewritten.

Not so easy to use.

Limited space.

●Requires proper storage and handling to avoid data loss.

●Designed in such a way that it can handle only limited number of writes, making discs very unreliable during intensive and/or prolonged use.

●Relatively slow compared to other media, such as external hard drives and flash disks.


(Digital Versatile/Video Disc-ReWritable)

●Can record over previously recorded material, edit recorded material and erase material already saved to the disc.

●Backwards compatible with existing DVD-Video players and DVD-ROM drives - approximately 65%.

●Can be stored offsite to protect against the case of physical damage to the area surrounding the computer

●Requires a DVD recorder.

●Have to be finalised after recording in order for them to play back on other DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.

●Slightly more expensive than DVD-R discs.

●Not so easy to use

●Limited space (less limiting than CD)

●Requires proper storage and handling to avoid data loss

Designed in such a way that it can handle only limited number of writes, making discs very unreliable during intensive and/or prolonged use.

●Relatively slow compared to other media, such as external hard drives and flash disks.

Flash Drives

●They are easy to use.

●Easy and reliable way to back up important documents.

Compact and portable.

●Fairly robust.

●Cross-platform compatible (Mac OS/Windows/Linux).

●Initially more expensive than CDs and DVDs.



External Drives

●They are easy to use.

External USB drives are highly portable and convenient.

●Backing up to an external hard drive is many times faster than burning CD/DVDs.

●Relatively inexpensive to buy and use.


●Can back up your whole system, including the operating system.

Stored offsite to protect against the case of physical damage to the area surrounding the computer

●Slightly slower than an internal hard drive.

●If plugged into a USB 1.0 device, it will be slower (USB 2.0 - 480mbps vs. USB 1.0 - 12mbps).


Network Drives

●Easy to use.

●The SAN (Storage Area Network) is regularly backed up by ICTS.

●Data is secure.

●Data can be restored if deleted

●Cannot access data if network is not available.

●Space is limited and is not suited for large amounts of data.






9.     Copy and Paste Files/Folders


The copy and paste function allows you to copy files/folders from one location to another.  Before you can copy and paste you have to select all the files/folders from the source, then select copy, then select paste in the target location. 



1. Whilst holding down the Ctrl key on the keyboard – use your mouse to left click on the files/folders you want to copy.

2. Once you have selected all the files/folders, right click and select copy
















3. Ensure that your mouse pointer is on the target drive which could be your memory stick, external hard drive or another folder, Right Click and select Paste from the drop down menu that appears.



10.             Using Memory Sticks


Memory sticks are easy to plug into any computer with a USB port.  They are available in sizes ranging from 256MB to 4GB or more.  Suitable for small to medium amount of backup.  To backup data to a memory stick you would copy the data from the source drive and paste in the drive letter assigned to the memory stick.


11.            Using CD/DVD


Most computers today have writeable CD (RW) or DVD (RW) drives and is a popular means to backup your data.  Blank CDs are inexpensive, and copying data onto CDs is easy.   A CD can hold up to 750mb of data and a DVD up to 8.5GB.  This is a suitable option for backing up small to medium amounts of data.  If you are writing your data files onto CDs, make sure that you make (and keep) multiple copies over time.   To use this method to backup you would use a CD Writing software like Roxio.  See step below on how to use Roxio to write your data to a CD.






Double Click on Roxio Creator Business DVD on your desktop, and










Click on Data and Backup then Data Disc














Click Add Data under Data Disc then choose Add Files/Add Folder














Browse to the Folder/File you want to burn and Click Add














Folder/File will appear on the data disk and you can add more Folders if you choose

to do that. Click Continue














Then it will start burning your data to a CD





Finished then Click Done













12.                 Using External hard drives


Buying and using an external hard drive for data backups is the method I recommend if you are saving large volumes of data.  It is also easy to use; in many cases, all you have to do is plug the hard drive into your personal computer’s USB port -  your computer will assign a drive letter to this hard drive and you would just copy from your source drive and paste onto the external drive. While hard drives do fail, their failure rate is much lower than that of backup media such as CDs.


13.                 Using the Network Drive


All UKZN staff members have a space available on a network drive to save their very important work.  You can make a backup of your file to a network drive by copying and pasting files to the network drive letter assigned to you.  There is no limit on the network at the moment but it will implemented in the near future.



Backing up your data is easy, the most common method is to copy the data from the source drive and paste it to the target drive which could be a memory stick, external hard drive, a network drive or you could use CD/DVD writing software to write your data to CDs/DVDs.  Please ensure that you verify that the data is on the media that you backed up to. So to avoid loss of data start your backup routine today!!!






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